Power Substations Sabotaged On Christmas

Power Substations Sabotaged On Christmas

Power Substations Sabotaged On Christmas

Even though a good portion of the country is going through some extreme weather right now along the eastern seaboard, some Washington state residents woke up on Christmas morning to find that they were without power as well. Why? Well, the western part of Washington state did see severe cold weather this last week, but the power outage had nothing to do with that.

Three power substations in western Washington were vandalized in a way that sabotaged the power for thousands on Christmas morning.

The first substation, located in Spanaway, Washington, and belonging to Tacoma Public Utilities, was attacked around 5:30 a.m. local time, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. Nothing was stolen, but equipment was vandalized, leading to outages in the area, police said.”

A second nearby TPU substation was also vandalized, police said.”

A substation belonging to Puget Sound Energy was also vandalized sometime in the early morning, police said. Power went around 2:30 a.m. local time. Police were notified around 11:30 a.m., and when they arrived on the scene, they found “the fenced area was broken into and the equipment vandalized,” similar to the other two substations.”

No suspects are in custody and it was not immediately clear if all three substations were vandalized by the same person or people or if the attacks are related.”

As of 5:30 p.m. local time, Tacoma Public Utilities said that only about 900 of the 7,300 customers who lost power were still in the dark.”

And this wasn’t just “oh, someone went in and pulled a few plugs” kind of vandalism.

Fortunately, the weather has warmed up considerably in the area, but people will still be in the dark and the cold (though not freezing) until sometime today. And note that “no suspects are in custody.” Earlier this month, two substations were attacked in North Carolina by gunfire and people were without power for days. On Thanksgiving Day, a power substation in Oregon had a break-in that could have resulted in an outage, but didn’t.

Residents in Clackamas County, Oregon were lucky to leave unscathed and with the lights on after a recent attack of their own.”

“Early on Thanksgiving morning, we did have an attack on one of our substations in Clackamas, Oregon,” said Doug Johnson, Senior Spokesperson, Bonneville Power Administration. “It was deliberate– there’s no question that somebody meant to do it. It looked like they used something sharp to cut through a fence there that’s designed to keep people out.”

Two other substations in Washington state also reported attempts to break-in during late November as well. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have both been on the alert for these types of attacks, but they seem to be focused on only one potential explanation, if you read DHS’s initial release from January 27, 2021. In Seattle, one local outlet was happy to find an “independent journalist” who was willing to blame the “extreme right wing.”

To further understand what might be the potential motive for such attacks on the power grid, we spoke with a journalist who has spent years researching and reporting on the actions of extremist groups.”

“The trope of attacking power infrastructure– of hitting the electrical grid, critical infrastructure — is an old tenet of the American extreme right wing,” said Ali Winston, an independent journalist.”

And the left has never done anything malicious or destructive while trying to achieve its goals, hmmm? With no suspects, there should be no assumptions. The ecoterrorist left is just as capable of coordinating attacks on the power grid as anyone else.

The real question is not who is behind this, though investigators better take all their leads seriously, not just their preconceived favorite ones. The real question is, why aren’t these power substations better protected? Where are the security cameras to track and record intruders? What kind of alarm systems are at these substations that it takes hours to discover that actual sabotage has taken place? With recent attacks in three different states, what is the federal government trying to do to shore up and protect the country’s power grid? These are just a handful of attacks. Imagine what destructiveness and panic a larger and truly organized group could trigger if they tried. And given that there have been attempts on Thanksgiving and now an attack on Christmas Day, I’d say whoever is behind this sabotage likes targeting big holidays. And guess what – we’ve got New Year’s coming around the corner. Anyone want to lay odds on another attack happening in less than a week?

Of course, until something truly disastrous that affects more than a few substations in Washington state and a couple in North Carolina happens, the federal government won’t work on preventing attacks, only responding to them. Yes, it is crucial that those responsible are found and held to account. But it’s even more crucial to protect the power grid not just from cyber attacks, but from physical attacks. And looking at the disaster that was the baby formula shortage, it takes a lot of voices yelling all at once before the federal government can be bothered to get up and try to patch together a solution. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take a complete disaster to shore up the protection of one of our most essential infrastructure pieces.

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Featured image via fietzfotos on Pixabay, cropped, Pixabay license

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  • Cameron says:

    There have been countless articles on just how vulnerable the power grid is. It’s going to take something drastic to happen before anything is done about it.

  • Anna A says:

    AND they are pushing electric cars on folks !. !

  • Kevin says:

    Inspector Clouseau, the goal of ecoterrorism isn’t to destabilize the government. You might want to look at groups, organizations, or movements whose goal is create chaos and pit divergent groups against one another. I would venture a guess it’s those who are hoarding weapons and stoking fear/division in the population in the hope that they turn against one another. I wouldn’t spend a lot of time surveilling the GLBTQ, Pro Choice, or the Greta Thurnbeg “save the planet” movement. Not my quote, but from other sources, “White nationalists, neo-Nazis and other domestic extremists seeking to sow unrest have taken responsibility for other high-profile attempts to take down swaths of the grid — prompting security experts to grow increasingly concerned about the U.S. electricity system’s vulnerability.” Here’s the scary thing, which these people have learned from the January 6 insurrection attempt … Don’t coordinate with other like minded groups or individuals. It’s much more difficult to find and identify the “lone wolf” operative. These “nut jobs” fantasize about “saving the nation” and know enough not to openly talk about their covert activities. It’s not the federal government that’s going to save us from these wackos … it’s other community members who witness, hear, see something out of place and report it. We just have to hope that whoever is the person/organization getting a report of unusual/strange activity acts on it in a timely fashion. All too often we find out “after the fact” that the horrendous, violent event could have been thwarted had someone done their job and followed through with the concern of a community member.

    • Cameron says:

      Your feelings are noted.

    • Das says:

      Kevin, you’re not just wrong, you’re spectacularly wrong, to the point of being a troll.

      In the PNW, environMENTAList groups have been attacking industry and sowing discord and pitting the population against one another for decades: Spiking trees; attacking pipelines; destroying train tracks, sabotaging dams; Antifa rioting; BLM, EarthFirst, CHAZ/CHOP;

      The goal of all of these groups (of which the environmental Luddite movement is just one cog in the larger machine) is *absolutely* to destabilize our republican form of government in order to replace it with a totalitarian one. Whether they achieve that by destroying energy, industry, education, cities, or families is not important to them. Their entire reason for existence to is foment division and then exploit that division to destabilize society….so they can rebuild it in their image.

      The only thing the “right” learned about Jan 6 was that the FBI and the Federal Government are irredeemably corrupt.

  • 370H55V I/me/mine says:

    Speaking of “baseless” and “without evidence” charges, I challenge this POS Ali Winston to cite even ONE incident of vandalism/sabotage to any component of the electrical gird committed by “the right-wing”.

  • American Human says:

    Okay, many substations have CCTV and a typical utility company has hundreds of substations. The cost would be substantial. There is almost no protection against a high powered rifles. Most are self healing meaning they can restore automatically. A utility would know of an outage almost immediately. It would take longer to figure out why. Also, transformers, switchgear, and reclosers, etc. are expensive and not necessarily kept as spares.

  • Linda S Fox says:

    The main problem of lost electric power is that it affect so many other systems than the lights (which, to be fair, you can anticipate and prepare for, with flashlights, lanterns, and candles). For many household needs, only electricity will do.
    For that reason, I’ll be planning on bringing up our generator from our home in SC. We are in the process of selling it (already have an offer – as is – on the table). When we bought the house, a few short episodes with a somewhat undependable electric supplier highlighted our need to buy a backup generator.
    In the North, your heat will sometimes be out – in the current cold snap, even for short outages, it can be deadly. For us, it was truly uncomfortable – https://rau-tng.blogspot.com/2022/12/holiday-roundup-2022.html – 5th bullet point describes our 12/23 outage.
    Many, if not most, of modern appliances and controls depend on electricity. Our internet was out. Our security system was out. No way to heat water for coffee. Only cold sandwiches available.
    We had a kerosene heater, but it had been stored for a long time, and lighting it led to a smoky house (not deadly, but with 2 asthmatics in the family, not good). Our nebulizer for asthma meds worked on electricity.
    I’d neglected to charge the power pack used to jump-start my car – which, in an emergency, could provide access to electric power within the house. Fortunately, our phones were fully charged.
    My amateur radios were charged fully (I make a regular habit of keeping them ready to go), so we had access to weather reports.
    I could read offline with my fully charged laptop or iPad.
    Fortunately, my husband was in town. I had a manual can opener, but, as a Lefty, it is difficult for me to operate. I will be ordering a battery-operated model very soon.
    This was a nice, although uncomfortable, test of our preparedness for emergencies. I’ve made note of our deficiencies, and will be correcting them ASAP.

  • M says:

    I’m wondering why it’s the responsibility of the federal government (as opposed to say state or county or city) to respond here.
    Is it because some of the electrons may have crossed state lines?
    Or is this because everything is now a federal case?

  • TallDave says:

    haha, at this point the FBI itself should be a primary suspect

  • OldParatrooper says:

    Joint Base McChord-Lewis is in Pierce County. If it was affected, the proper charge would be 18 USC 105 Sabotage of a Defense Utility.

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